Archive for the ‘Night at the Museum’ Category

Silver Screen Review – ‘Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian’

June 25, 2009
Image © 20th Century Fox/21 Laps Entertainment/1492 Pictures.

A great cast, a creative plot, and fun sequences make the 2nd ‘Night at the Museum’ an exhilarating ride.

By Blake

Originally posted June 25, 2009.

The central theme flowing throughout Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, the new sequel to the hit 2006 film featuring Ben Stiller as a museum night guard who endures the museum’s creatures and exhibits coming to life at nighttime, emphasizes enjoying life and having fun at what you’re doing. This message is conveyed quite straightforward through the characters’ dialogue, but also by demonstrating the adventure of life through an overall fun experience.

Ben Stiller as Larry Daley in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Image © 20th Century Fox/21 Laps Entertainment/1492 Pictures.

The success of the first Night at the Museum was obvious for a sequel, but its storyline hadn’t left room for much to be retold. If there were to be a sequel, its plot would likely be unneeded and repetitive to its predecessor. However, as underdog as it may seem, Battle of the Smithsonian does exactly what I doubted it could: convey a creatively endearing plot that presses itself forward without feeling like we’re just seeing a remake. The story consists of the mannequins, displays, and artifacts of the American Museum of Natural History in New York being shipped to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Since the tablet that makes the exhibits come to life at night is expected to stay in New York, former night guard Larry Daley (played by Ben Stiller) sets out to return his friends back to New York. Eventually he reaches Washington and the tablet ends up getting there as well, resulting in the entire Smithsonian coming to life, threatening the group’s return home.

Amy Adams really made the movie shine for me. I was unaware that she was even in the film until the movie had been released, and even then I didn’t know she had a main role. Playing Amelia Earhart, she delivers a quirky, determined performance for the confident historic pilot and even has the speech and slang phrases of Earhart down-pat.

Amy Adams (left) as Amelia Earhart and Ben Stiller as Larry Daley in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Image © 20th Century Fox/21 Laps Entertainment/1492 Pictures.

The reprise performances of Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan as miniatures were also enjoyable, each having a real sense for who their character was and what was driving their character to press on.

Steve Coogan (left) as Octavius and Owen Wilson as Jedediah Smith in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Image © 20th Century Fox/21 Laps Entertainment/1492 Pictures.

Time is an element that comes across well as the plot progresses. Most of the film takes place in a single night, so a lot of the movie is delivered in a real-time format (as opposed to showing a lapse of time between scenes). Since the characters have a goal that they must vitally achieve (to get the exhibits back home before dawn), the element of time communicates well the conflict of the pressure that the characters hold, and the pressure that the audience also feels, too.

As far as sequels go, this one surprisingly relays its prior events from the first Night at the Museum relatively well, catching the audience up quite quickly. I’d go as far to say that if I didn’t know that the movie was a sequel and I hadn’t seen the first film, I wouldn’t have realized that it was a sequel. It helps to have the background information from the first movie to help guide the plot and characters along, but Battle of the Smithsonian could have potentially worked out as a stand-alone film by itself, so I complement the filmmakers for creating a fun story that relies on itself.

I can imagine that the movie might have been a challenge to pen, as it relies heavily on comedic dialogue in many scenes. Ultimately the long, drawn-out scenes with nothing but talking are sometimes annoying, sometimes hilarious. The writing does an admirable job at portraying its story’s characters, and a large portion of the film’s comedy comes from puns, parodies, and surprise appearances. Everyone from Oscar the Grouch to three cast members of The Office are shown, and I was guessing all throughout the movie what other people I recognized. Even the Jonas Brothers show up, though not playing themselves.

There are few moments, however, that seem to take cues from other productions rather than parody them. One scene seems very reminiscent of National Treasure while another had me flashing back to Blue’s Clues.

As a whole, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian presents a creative journey that will satisfy moviegoers. Families concerned about appropriate content should note that a few curse words are used, but they’re very seldom spoken and are the only inappropriate elements of the movie. Additionally, there are a few frightening characters (there is a heap of villains this time around) and scenes that might be too scary for those that are easily afraid. Some of the jokes get old, but overall the film gives its audiences a whimsical adventure that reminds them to make time for fun in their lives.

How do I rank Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian? (Bolded is my choice.)
  • Aaah!
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian will most likely please: Kids (ages 5-7) – Older Kids (ages 8-10) – Tweens (ages 11-13)

By Blake; posted June 25, 2009. All images © 20th Century Fox/21 Laps Entertainment/1492 Pictures.